Many pet owners believe it will never happen to them, yet every year people gamble with their beloved dogs’ lives and every summer dogs tragically die in hot cars.
Even parked in the shade with the windows open, a car can quickly heat up like an oven – even when it doesn’t feel that warm outside.
On a mild summer day of around 22C, a car parked in the sun can reach a temperature of over 47C within just an hour – dangerous for humans and dogs to be trapped in.
In hotter weather, cars can even heat up to 60C.
PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan, said: “Dogs only sweat through their paws so they mainly rely on panting to cool them down.
This means when the air is baking hot around them, they can’t cool down very well. Trapped in a hot car, dogs can quickly succumb to heatstroke, which can be fatal without urgent medical attention.
Even if they don’t get heatstroke, imagine how painful, distressing and frightening it must be for them being trapped and overheating.”
PDSA is urging owners to remember that ‘not long’ is too long when it comes to leaving dogs in cars, and is also raising awareness of what to do if you come across a distressed dog in a car.
Olivia added: “Should you see a dog left in a car, first check if they are displaying any signs of heatstroke.
This would be signs like panting heavily; drooling excessively; appearing drowsy, lethargic or uncoordinated; vomiting or collapsing.
If you see any of these symptoms call 999 immediately – the police have powers of entry which means they can legally break into the car to rescue the dog.
If the dog is in distress, they can respond quickly in these situations.” If the dog isn’t displaying signs of heatstroke, then PDSA advises doing the following:
- try to find out how long the dog has been there – is there a pay and display ticket?
- make a note of the registration number – even if the owner returns you may wish to report the incident to the police if you feel the dog is in danger. You can use the non- emergency number 101 to do this.
- if possible, try to get an announcement made over a public address system to alert the owner, (e.g. shopping centre or supermarket speakers), but don’t leave the dog on its own to do this as they may deteriorate – it’s best to leave someone to monitor them.
If a dog is removed from a car and has overheated, it’s important to gradually lower their body temperature.
If it drops too fast they can go into shock, but if it remains high it can be potentially fatal.
Offer them fresh water, move them to a shaded area, and where possible, begin cooling them gradually by gently pouring lukewarm water on them – the best places to focus on are their neck, tummy and inner thighs.
If you have a fan, you can use it to help cool them down too. Once their breathing settles and they seem more alert, it’s vital to get them checked over.
Call a vet for advice and get an emergency appointment.